Record flooding has rocked Australia's east coast this week. Torrential rainfall and quick-moving floodwaters, described as a "one-in-a-one thousand-year event" by New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, trapped thousands who have needed rescuing. In Lismore, New South Wales, that included up to 50 people who were trapped on a bridge overnight on Monday.
Residents took refuge there, protecting themselves, their cars, and their livestock from the damaging floodwaters. The group became stuck there when quickly rising floodwaters blocked both ends of the bridge, and the approaching nightfall meant that rescuers had to postpone saving the stranded group. This forced them had to stay overnight on the bridge, although rescuers were quick to take them and their horses to safety at first light on Tuesday morning.
"Everyone has lost absolutely everything, it's absolutely divesting," Cassie Smith, a resident who had spent the night on the bridge, told the Independent. "I just don't know what we're going to do," she added.
David Rankin, NSW's State Emergency Service media manager, commended the group's decision-making. He added that the government wants people to get to higher ground and use local landmarks like bridges as an asset.
The rain and flooding have left thousands of homes underwater and several people dead. According to Reuters, as of yesterday, the storm has claimed at least 10 lives, and authorities expect there could be more once floodwaters recede. There are several reports of people still missing.
The floodwaters have blocked roads and bridges, and it has caused power outages in the area, too, complicating rescue efforts. So far, the NSW has received more than 6,000 calls for help, with over 1,000 rescues having been carried out so far. Quick-moving floodwaters can be deadly, effortlessly sweeping away people, cars, and homes. The extraordinary rainfall is the worst the area has seen since 2011.